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How to create a “master” resume

Got your resume looking perfect?

Wrong! In fact, your resume should never look perfect. It should be a living document that shifts and changes for almost every job that you apply for.

With years of work experience, you shouldn’t include every detail of your career each and every time you apply for a job – instead, you should be tailoring your resume to the organisation and the role your applying for.

That’s because employers are looking for candidates who stand out. Sending a broad resume that isn’t tailored to the organisation is a good way to not be invited in for an interview.

And the easiest way to be able to tailor your resume for each application is to create a master resume.

A master resume is simply a document that lists all your details in one place. The document should contain your skills, qualifications such as short courses you’ve completed, accomplishments, projects you’ve worked on and experiences. The document can be as long as you’d like and aims to help you create a tailored resumes depending on the position you’re applying for.

Remember, a master resume is just the skeleton for your resume. It shouldn’t be sent out to a potential employer.

Why it’s worth having a master resume

The purpose of a master resume is not to provide a blanket list of skills and achievements to send to all potential employers, in fact, it’s the opposite. By creating a document that holds all your information, you can begin to tailor your resume to individual employers, thus standing out from the crowd.

The document can also act as a catalog of your previous experiences, saving you the hassle of remembering all those little details when applying for a job.

The process of putting together a master resume not only provides you with an ongoing repository of your skills and experiences but allows you to gain insight on your career trajectory.

Here’s how to get started:

1. Collect all your past resumes

Unlike your stock-standard resume that should only be one to three pages, your goal here is to get as much as possible into this one template. You may feel like you remember everything that you need to put into the resume. But it is not uncommon to forget some of your earlier experiences, and certainly some of your accomplishments or skills gained in a particular role. By going back through your past applications and resumes, you may find a skill that you had forgotten or could once again be applicable to your job applications.

2. Revisit past positions

Have you ever taken part in something that was successful? This is the type of question that you need to ask yourself when creating your master resume. Write down all the positions you’ve held, short courses you’ve taken, things you’ve accomplished and the skills that you’ve acquired in the process. Now, when you begin writing your resume you can visit the master resume and decide which of those experiences, skills or accomplishments relate to the job you’re applying for.

3. Look at what makes you, you

Most employers don’t just want to know about you as a worker. They’re also looking at whether your values and personality is a good fit for their culture. If you volunteer, dance, sing, garden etc, make sure you list this on your master resume too. Writing down skills you have that aren’t necessarily found in the workplace will highlight your values and personality and make your resume more well-rounded.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask those close to you

Ask your friends, bosses and even co-workers what they know about you. Ask them to tell you what they think are your strongest attributes. This is be a great way to learn how potential employers may view you. Use your master resume to highlight the strengths you identify in as many of your previous roles as you can.

5. Don’t rush the process

This is a document you can use over and over again, so there’s no point rushing it. Depending on your level of experience writing a master resume could take hours. Although the process may seem arduous, it will be a document that you will use again and again throughout your career.

This is a guest post by Caroline Schmidt from Kangan Institute. Caroline is passionate about education, careers, and giving career advice to students of all ages.

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